W&S workers sent on leaveProbe launched into ‘sensitive’ allegations
Several Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) employees, including Deputy General Manager Robert Deal, have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation concerning “sensitive allegations”, Minister of Works Desmond Bannister confirmed yesterday.
When asked to detail these allegations, Bannister said the board requested permission to place the employees, whom he did not name, on administrative leave over “internal allegations”, to which he agreed.
But the minister made clear that there have been no findings to date in relation to anyone.
He said, “I don’t want to negatively impact the careers of those persons who I view as professionals, so we have agreed to administrative leave pending the outcome of these investigations.”
He continued, “There are a number of internal matters, internal allegations, and I’m sorry that I can’t say it because it may prejudice the investigation if I put it in the public domain.”
Bannister said he expects the investigation to be concluded quickly.
“I have advised the chairman (Adrian Gibson) that these matters can’t be outstanding for long,” he said.
“I know he appreciates that, and so we will try to get it done as quickly as it can be done, both in the interest of the corporation and in the interest of the persons.”
The investigation comes as the board and government await the conclusion of a forensic audit by accounting firm Ernst & Young, ordered in September.
But the minister said the audit and the internal investigation are unrelated.
“There are allegations that have been made; persons have come forward and made them,” he said.
“In order to properly look at the allegations those persons who are impacted have been put on administrative leave.
“As I said, I just want to be very careful about the reputations of individuals.”
It was unclear what specifically prompted the forensic audit.
WSC General Manager Glen Laville and Chief Financial Officer Sandra Edgecombe were placed on administrative leave for several days as the audit got underway before being brought back.
Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis said at the time he believed they were placed on administrative leave as some form of “payback” after someone leaked a list of names of people who were protected from having their accounts disconnected for nonpayment.
Bannister said the board expects to soon have the audit in hand.
The Minnis administration has also committed to conducting forensic audits at Bank of The Bahamas (BOB), Urban Renewal, the former government’s hurricane relief program and the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI).
The most controversial audit to date has been the one performed at Bahamas Power and Light (BPL).